France – Jour 17 – Part 1

Duvine Loire Valley Cycling Adventure – Day 3

Alas – I woke up this morning still feeling pretty average.  I had paid a visit to Le Pharmacie the day before and picked up some medicine, but colds are colds – and they just take time to work through the system.  Thus, for me, it was another day in the van.  Andrew, naturally, was keen to hop back on the bike.

Today was a transfer day – so we made sure our bags were packed before breakfast – we wanted to be organised, otherwise we might have had to take our own bags down the 3 flights of stairs!  That meant we had plenty of time for breakfast, before hitting the road at about 10am.  This time, I would be travelling with Padraic in the van – and we would support the guys on their ride from Onzain to Amboise.

Andrew was ready for another day’s riding

On the road again…

Through the forest…

Past some vineyards…

..and Loire Valley fields

…with lots of birds!


At the cross roads

Ron and Maureen – leading the breakaway

Andrew – following shortly behind… taking it easy….

The skies looked foreboding – but the rain managed to hold off, which is what we like!  There was a bit of a breakaway group with Andrew, Deb, John, Maureen and Ron… and they managed to navigate their way quite well while Adam stayed with Art and Marg.

The breakaway looking for directions from Padraic…sporting his favourite grey sweater.
Those cycling clothes never turned up!

Here they come…

Marg and Art

… and Adam  – striking a pose for the camera!

It never matters what happens – Marg always has a smile on her face!  Padraic kept saying that he wanted to bottle her – she was such a positive trooper!

Past a mobile roadside market

This is a mobile market.  Padraic explained that these vendors would probably come into this village once or twice per week and this is where people got their fresh meat and vegetables.  Quite intriguing really – kind of like a mini farmers market.  We headed off again….

… and made it to the town of Amboise – a gorgeous, picturesque town on the Loire River.  The two main attractions are the Chateau d’Amboise and Le Chateau du Clos Lucé.  We were visiting the latter – where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last 3 years of his life finalising some of his great inventions.  He was a great friend to the King of France, Francis I and it’s said that there is a secret passageway between the two places so that Leonardo and Francis could meet!

View of  Chateau d’Amboise from Clos de Lucé

The chateau is quite remarkable in retrospect – but at the time, I have to confess I was beginning to feel like seen one chateau, seen them all!    They were starting to blur together a little bit.  Thank goodness we took so many lovely photos for posterity…

The sitting room…

The bedroom

Did you know that four poster beds were so that the curtains could be drawn to keep warm at night? That’s why the beds are often on a little platform as well.

The dining hall

On the ground floor there were a range of rooms containing models of his inventions…

I’m glad we’re not riding these!

War machine!

Andrew particularly liked this one because it showed how effectively the machine worked with a model maimed warrior on the ground… see his legs are off!!

Model of the bridge that can swing out to allow river traffic…

… and here’s a life size replica in the garden!!

The gardens were truly spectacular and included a lot of life size representations of da Vinci’s inventions.

Andrew and the Archimedes screw which brings water up through a spiral pipe

The grounds of Clos de Lucé and the model “helicopter”

Andrew in Da Vinci’s garden

The small lake

Light & Faces 1

Light & Faces 2

There was a beautiful exhibit consisting of giant translucent canvases of some of Leonardo’s artwork suspended in this copse of trees.  It was designed to show the interplay of light and shade with his art.  I thought it was quite beautiful.

And of course… there were beautiful flowers to be captured

Andrew and me

Here’s a photo of me and Andrew… hmmm… that red nose!  I just don’t look my usual happy self – dang this cold!

For lunch we were meant to have a picnic – however, the foreboding skies suggested an indoor venue might be more appropriate.  The contingency plan was pizza and pasta at La Scala.

Pizza Siciliana – sauce tomate, mozzarella, jambon

Andrew was happy with his pizza – simple ham, cheese and tomato sauce.

Pasta Silvio – penne, crème de cèpes, jambon italien aux herbes, cèpes, crème fraiche

My pasta was just OK – I had picked out the one that looked to have the most mushrooms, but was greeted with just a token amount.  Ah well… hopefully dinner would be better.

After lunch there was a choice of an optional ride out to another winery. Personally, I was spent so opted to go to our hotel and have an afternoon nap.  Ron and Maureen were happy to go to the optional destination via the van, while everyone else took some time out.   Andrew was the only one who wanted to go out for the optional ride – so he and Adam set out, and ended up doing a few extra kilometres becase they were so far ahead of everybody!

Wine tasting at Domaine Flamand Delétang

The winery they visited was Domaine Flamand Delétang. Andrew was very impressed with this winery which was run by a husband and wife team who were so enthusiastic.  The sad story was that they had already given their children their inheritance – being a parcel of the vineyard – which they had then sold onto a third party.  What this meant was that their winemaking capacity had seriously dropped – and their cellars were largely empty!

Apparently these cellars have been dug out by hand over generations.  In fact, Andrew suspects these cellars may even extend beyond the Domaine’s property boundary and into other people’s land – or should I say under other people’s land. Fascinating stuff!  It was last dug out by Coco’s grandfather – so it was awhile ago now.

Empty cellars… it seems such a waste!

Corinne (Coco) getting a taste of the freshly pressed grape juice

Nonetheless, Coco cheerfully showed them around the winery and even gave them a taste of grape juice that had just been freshly squeezed.  Her husband, Olivier then insisted on getting them to taste some juice that was 12 hours older.  What a difference! This juice was much smoother and crisper, especially compared to the freshly pressed which was like something from Boost Juice!!

Domaine Flamand Delétang vinyards

Adam leading the way home…

The ride home from the winery was quite funny – as Adam desperately tried to challenge Andrew and maybe even lose him!! They took an exploratory route up and down hills – even though Andrew was only on a hybrid and Adam on a road bike!  No matter what he tried, Adam couldn’t shake Andrew who kept up with him all the way.  What a guy!!

All up – Andrew and Adam covered 62km and 174m of elevation. Not bad for a day in the saddle!

After some time to recover, Andrew and I had to ponder our dining options.  It was a night where we were left to our own devices… I wonder where we would choose???  Stay tuned…